Christmas – the start of a tragedy?

We have just celebrated Remembrance Day, and we are in the lead up to another day  of remembering an event that modern philosophy would view as tragic.  Jesus Christ was born specifically with the deliberate destiny of dying a horrific death by crucifixion.  The culmination of his life’s purpose was to die, painfully and alone.  And yet Christmas is a joyful event celebrating his birth.  And his life was not tragic, nor heroic, but marvellous and loving.

At first sight this does not make sense, but only if we come at the event with the wrong assumptions.  To make sense we need to grasp that:

  • This was God himself choosing to become human, living as we live, suffering as we suffer, and importantly, doing himself what was required rather than imposing on another.
  • To do this, God must care deeply about us
  • Suffering is not necessarily bad. It can be necessary to achieve the best
  • Death is not the end, but a doorway to something better
  • It is not possible for us to live a perfect life
  • God / Jesus chose to die to allow us to forgive ourselves for our past, and to choose to live his way … even if it may lead to what the world sees as hardship and suffering

There is so much more that we need to learn, that we have forgotten in this modern age.  Use this Christmas to begin your journey of discovery.

 

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Making decisions as a community

Often we have to make decisions as a community; a family, a nation, a team.  How do we go about it?  Usually we will simply ask “what do you think we should do?”  And then we will argue against the other person’s proposal.   When the decision is finally made there is conflict and resentment from those who suggested doing something else.  The results of this approach can be extremely damaging.

For instance, the government ask “do you want to leave the EU?”  Half of us say yes and half of us say no, and so half of us are very upset that we have not been listened to.  The nation is split in two.

Or a local authority will make a proposal to close Children’s Centres and then ask people’s opinion on the proposal, calling it a consultation.  But it is simply a consultation on whether you like the proposal or not.  The consultation doesn’t lead to a better solution, but just to anger from those who will be harmed by the proposal.

The steps we go through, probably unconsciously, when we decide something for ourselves can be summarised as:

  1. What is a the problem
  2. What are the alternative solutions
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each
  4. What do we want to do

But when we try to make decisions as a community our normal approach is:

  1. What do you want to do?
  2. I don’t want to do that, but this.

We end up arguing, simply because trying to decide something without even knowing what problem we are trying to solve.

In both of the examples above, the process could have been different.

For example, the question could have been “What factors are important in deciding whether to remain in the EU, and how important do you think each factor is?”

With the results of this consultation, the government could have framed a proposal for how to deal with the different issues, explained the proposal and the reasoning used to get to it, and then (if necessary) asked for agreement to proceed.  In essence this is requiring the government to carry out ‘completed staff work’ (http://govleaders.org/completed-staff-work.htm) before submitting a proposal for approval.  If they have done their work well, the conclusion would simply need our approval.

Try this approach in your community.  Let me know if it helps.

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Tony Blair – builder of the housing crisis

The chart below shows clearly how Tony Blair’s administration oversaw house prices racing away from earnings.

He didn’t recognise the need for council housing, and did not restart the building programme stopped by Margaret Thatcher.

How dare he criticise the present Labour leadership!

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More than a General Election

8th June 2017 was so much more than just a General Election.  I am writing this on June 9th with a joyful heart.  I give thanks that Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Patience, Goodness and Self Control are not dead. But I am also aware that neither are hatred, anguish, fear, selfishness, aggression, betrayal, impatience, evil and knee-jerk responses.

The things on the first list are “the fruit of the spirit”, those on the second list are natural human responses to situations.  We have all experienced both lists – giving and receiving – and we know that the first list brings life, the second brings despair.

I have learned that the first list is not just fruit of the spirit, it is God within us– whether we recognise it as him or not.  God is love, and love is God.  God is joy and joy is God….  When we experience love, we are experiencing God.

The second list describes the absence of God.  Hatred is the absence of love, anguish is the absence of peace…

Yesterday showed that God is still present in us.  But it also showed that we can behave in very selfish ways. Many of us have selfish habits and responses that we cannot control, and think that we cannot get rid of.  Believe me, we can conquer them! Talk to me privately if you want to know more.

Politics is important, but much of politics is about making the best of a bad job.  It is about managing a dysfunctional society which tends to the natural human response.  But I have a great hope.  I hope that we can bring transformation to society.  Let us strive to exercise and experience Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Patience, Goodness and Self Control.  Let us choose God within us.

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Terror attacks

These murderers were once normal people like you and me.  But they have been corrupted by allowing the seed of hatred to grow and fester in their hearts.  They have turned from all that is good.

We must not and cannot allow that same seed of hatred to take root in our hearts.

We must not look at our neighbours of different skin, different religion or different political beliefs and allow hatred to grow in our hearts.

The only revenge that we must take is not to become as they are.

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How to create the society that we deserve.

As a society, we decide what we value. Where do we want our work to generate value?  Do we value our transport infrastructure, do we value our children’s education, do we value our police force, our armed forces, caring for the elderly, the weak and the sick?  If we do, then our work has to be generating value in those areas.

Every hour we work generates more value than we receive as pay.  But who decides where the value that we create goes?  Clearly we can decide where we spend the value that we earn, but the extra value is retained by our employer, often private sector companies.

Businesses are responsible to their owners (shareholders) and have the responsibility to maximise income for the owners.  Their goal is to channel the value that we create to the owners.  Businesses do not have souls. Businesses are only interested in caring for the sick if it generates more income for the owners.  They are purely financially driven.  That is not a criticism but a fact.  It keeps things simple, and can produce very efficient and focussed activities.

In order to create the nation that the people want, we need a regulatory environment that directs value where we want it and allows the businesses to operate within that environment.   That is the role of government, through the tax and regulatory systems.

There is plenty of value generated in this country, we just need to see it allocated to the right areas.  At the moment, too much is allocated to a small number of people.  The activities that benefit us all are not valued enough by the few who decide where to ‘spend’ the value that they acquire.

As a society, we have the right to decide what we value and a right to ensure that our work creates value in areas that are important to us.  If we want to be cared for when we are old, we need people working to care for us.  If we want safe streets we need our police force.  If we want our children taught well we need teachers.

If more people work in these areas, it may mean less people working in other areas.  We may have to accept less people working in the finance industry, or the retail industry for example.  But surely a civilised society values caring for its people higher than moving money around, or selling more stuff?

So, we need a taxation system that allows the society that we deserve to be funded.  That is why it is important to regain more control of the allocation of value.  Government needs to take back control from businesses, and from the top 5% of earners.

But what about the argument that ‘they will just go somewhere else’.  The value that is currently channelled to the wealthy is being created here.  It will still be created here.  All that will happen if the owner of a company decides to emigrate is that they will be harvesting the value created in the country that they go to.  The value created in our country will stay here for the benefit of our citizens.

So on June 8th, let’s vote for the society that we deserve.  Let’s grasp our future with excitement and hope, and not shrink from the opportunity to make this nation great.

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One good thing about the Tory manifesto

The one good thing that I have discovered from the Tory manifesto is an increased empathy with the writers of the psalms.  They clearly had their own Tory party in power.  Psalm 10 reads:

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?  In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.   He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LordIn his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  His ways are always prosperous;  your laws are rejected by him;  he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”  He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats;  trouble and evil are under his tongue…..”

But God is love, and love will be victorious.  Use your vote wisely.  Vote with love for your fellow human beings – the many as well as the few.

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Draw your own conclusions

Here is some data.  It should be more powerful than rhetoric.  Draw your own conclusions…

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Full employment at any cost?

It should be very rewarding to be in employment.  There should be dignity to providing for yourself, and knowing that you are making a contribution to society.  There should be wellbeing associated with the knowledge of where the next meal is coming from.  There should be the camaraderie of working with others, the team spirit and banter can lift the soul.  There should be the shared bonds of a community gathering around a common cause.

But I fear that these benefits count for little these days.  The goal of full employment under the present government is for economic purposes only.  Zero hours contracts and removal of workers rights support the economic goal …. but the human benefit is lost.

There are historical examples of full employment driven purely by economic reasons.  Slavery provided full employment for the benefits of the slave owners and the government of the time.  Labour camps provided full employment.

When Labour talk about full employment, they are talking about the benefit to each person. “We will create a million good quality jobs across our regions and nations, and guarantee a decent job for all….”

I long to see our nation turn from the god of ‘The Economy’ to the instruction of God to ‘love one another’.  That is why Labour will be getting my vote.

Full employment

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Brexit … the great divorce

I have been married for 36 years.  Others are not that lucky, and unfortunately many marriages end in divorce.  Britain’s attachment to the EU is one such case.

Our government is launching into negotiations with the EU.  Let’s see if they are taking good advice.

Clearly it is best to negotiate Brexit in a “sensible, co-operative manner”.   It does not do anyone any good to start by making unrealistic demands and expecting to get your own way on everything.

So far all I have seen is uncompromising posturing for the UK press.

I would prefer our negotiations to be led by a government that is “Fair and Reasonable” rather than one which prides itself on pretending to be “Strong and Stable”.

That is another reason that I will be voting Labour on June 8th.

PS – here is advice on negotiating with the EU, which backs up the above http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/theresa-may-brexit-tactics-wrong-eu-former-greek-finance-minister-yanis-varoufakis-a7721151.html

 

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